Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

Vision 2030: Saudi Arabia’s Shift towards Modernity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Modernization in Saudi Arabia , MBS's Policies

Vision 2030


  • Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 seeks to reshape Saudi Arabia, moving away from oil dependence and embracing modernity.
  • This transformation faces resistance from traditionalists but aligns with a changing global image of Saudi Arabia as a tourist-friendly, welcoming nation.

Al-Ula: A Modern Oasis

  • Historical Significance: Al-Ula, an ancient city along the incense route, is pivotal in MBS’s vision to modernize Saudi Arabia.
  • Breaking Stereotypes: Saudi Arabia aims to challenge traditional beliefs by welcoming tourists beyond pilgrimage destinations.
  • Nationalism Beyond Religion: The country’s evolving nationalism is detached from religion, emphasizing individual liberties and empowerment.

Winds of Change

  • Empowering Women: Saudi Arabia promotes gender equality, offering scholarships and opportunities for young women.
  • National Transformation: Young Saudis actively participate in the modernization drive, recognizing its benefits.
  • Welcoming the ‘Other’: Saudi Arabia’s newfound friendliness towards foreigners, including easing visa norms and hosting entertainment events.

Challenges on Path to Modernity

  • Cultural Sensitivities: Transitioning from conservative traditions is challenging, but Saudis are adapting to change.
  • Historical Significance: Al-Ula’s archaeological treasures pose challenges given their potential impact on religious perceptions.
  • Top-Down Change: Past experiences highlight the complexities of enforcing societal changes from the top.

Global Engagement

  • Strategic Foreign Policy: Saudi Arabia’s balanced foreign policy has insulated it from regional conflicts.
  • Cultural Riches: The country aims to showcase its archaeological wonders to the world.
  • Green Initiatives: MBS’s ‘green’ approach and emphasis on renewables align with global trends.

Opportunities for India

  • Improved Working Conditions: Indian migrant workers can expect better conditions and a renewed social contract.
  • Educational and Cultural Exchanges: Indian educators and artists have opportunities to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s educational overhaul.
  • Counter-Terrorism Cooperation: India can leverage Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism initiatives.
  • Bilateral Investments: Collaboration in infrastructure and service sectors presents growth potential for both nations.


  • Saudi Arabia’s journey towards modernity is marked by challenges and opportunities.
  • As it reshapes its identity and engages with the world, India stands to benefit from this evolving partnership, contributing to mutual growth and cooperation.
  • Saudi Arabia’s aspiration to excel in various fields aligns with India’s interests, paving the way for a fruitful relationship.

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